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GMAT Test Structure

There are three main sections in the test, listed below in the order in which they appear on the test. The test's length is three and a half hours (210 minutes), not including optional 10 minute breaks between sections.

Analytical Writing Assessment

Content: 2 writing tasks
Time allotted: 60 minutes, 30 minutes for each writing task.
Section scoring: Each essay is scored on a scale of 0-6. The essays are scored by two readers and the final score comprises the average of the two scores. However, if the two scores are more than one point apart, a third reader will grade it to determine the final score.

The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) is designed to measure the test taker's ability to think critically and communicate ideas. The AWA consists of two writing tasks: Analysis of an issue and Analysis of an Argument.

Quantitative Section

Content: 37 multiple choice questions.
Time allotted: 75 minutes.
Section scoring: The score on this section is on a scale of 0-60.

This section introduces two types of questions - problem solving and data sufficiency. 
Problem Solving questions are designed to test mathematical skills, understanding of elementary mathematical concepts, and the ability to reason quantitatively and solve quantitative problems. Both numerical and verbal mathematical questions are given.

Data Sufficiency questions are designed to test the ability to analyze a quantitative problem, to recognize which information is relevant, and to determine at what point there is sufficient information to solve a problem. In this type of question, two statements are given together with a series of questions. The test taker needs to determine whether one statement is enough to answer the question, both statements are required, or more information is required to answer the question.

Verbal Section

Content: 41 multiple choice questions.
Time allotted: 75 minutes.
Section scoring: The score on this section is on a scale of 0-60.

The Verbal part of the GMAT exam measures the test taker's ability to read and comprehend written material, reason and evaluate arguments, and correct written material to conform to standard written English. The Verbal section is composed of three types of questions: Reading Comprehension, Critical Reasoning, and Sentence Correction.

Reading Comprehension

The Reading Comprehension section consists of passages followed by three questions each. The passages are diverse and could be about any topic. The purpose of this part of the exam is to measure the test taker's ability to understand, analyze, and apply information and concepts presented in written form.

Critical Reasoning

The Critical Reasoning section consists of an argument that needs to be analyzed. The questions that follow test the reasoning skills involved in making arguments, evaluating arguments, and formulating or analyzing a plan of action.

Sentence Correction

The Sentence Correction section tests aspects of English language proficiency, including grammar, usage, and syntax. Sentence are given, all or part of which has been underlined. Test takers must choose which of the five choices best expresses an idea or relationship, and demonstrate their ability to improve incorrect or ineffective expressions.

GMAT Scores

Total GMAT scores are on a 200-800 scale. The scores of each section are converted and summed into a new scale, which does not contain the AWA section. 

Minimum GMAT score

Technically, the minimum composite GMAT score is 200. However, when referring to low scores on the GMAT, it is easy to refer to the average score as a benchmark; the mean GMAT score in the United States is around 550.

Highest GMAT Score

The highest GMAT score is 800; however, there are few people world-wide that achieve this score annually. About 99% of all scores are located beneath 760, which means that only one percent of all scores is distributed between 760 and 800. There are also top scores for each section. Although the quantitative section's score is on a 0-60 scale, only one percent of the population scores between 51-60. The same rule follows for the verbal section, where approximately 99 percent of the scores are under 46!

Average GMAT Scores

Let's look at average scores according to sections and on the test's total score average. The quantitative section average scre is somewhere around 35, the verbal section score is around is lower spanning beneath the 30's, and the average total test score is roughly between 550-580.

Good GMAT Scores

Defining a good GMAT score is not trivial. In general terms, most people consider good GMAT scores as those positioned in the 85th percentile and above. Scores in this range are somewhere between 650 and 800. According to recent press releases, the average GMAT scores of students who studied in the top 10 ranked business schools in the U.S. revolved around 710. At the top 20 rank, students' GMAT average score dropped to around 680. 

Remember, It is not only your GMAT and academic achievements that make up your application. At some schools, the work experience you have in the world of business and management is a key factor. Thus, applicants who are engaged in careers related to business, management and entrepreneurship have a relative advantage over other applicants. Moreover, some schools take into account personal traits and greatly consider the applicant’s interview performance.

GMAT Reading Comprehension Strategies

  • Read the passage very attentively.
  • Form a mental map of the passage as you read or make a map on scratch paper. Follow the direction of the argument using keywords that reflect tendencies, tones and structure.
  • Make yourself notes on the following issues as you read: 
  1. The main idea of the passage (usually introduced in the first paragraph).
  2. The introduction of every new idea.
  3. The arguments used to support an idea or position.
  4. The arguments used to oppose an idea or position.
  5. Details and examples used and why they are used.
  6. The author's position.

Do not waste mental energy on remembering details or examples. The aims of your attentive reading are: to form a mental or written map of the general lines of the subject, and to know where to go to answer each question. You must pace yourself. If you find a question too difficult, mark the most reasonable answer and move ahead. There is no penalty for wrong answers. No one is expected to have time to answer all the questions.

Strategies for Answering GMAT Reading Comprehension Questions:

  • Familiarize yourself with all of the different types of questions. You should be able to identify the question type immediately.
  • Learn how to answer each type of question, that is, exactly what you should do in order to arrive at the correct answer.
  • Read each question stem very attentively. Read the question a second time if necessary.
  • Go back to the place in the passage that presents that issue. Reread the necessary section of the passage. It may be as much as a paragraph.
  • Predict the answer to the question in the time it takes you to go back to the answer choices.
  • Read each answer choice. Mark the answer you predicted. If it helps you to eliminate some answer choices, do that. 

GMAT FAQs

What is the highest score on the GMAT? 

The highest GMAT score is 800; however, there are few people world-wide that achieve this score annually. About 99% of all scores are located beneath 760, which means that only one percent of all scores is distributed between 760 and 800.

How long is the GMAT score valid?

GMAT scores are good for only three years. After that period of time, the test needs to be retaken.

How often can I take the GMAT? 

Once in every 30 day period, but no more than 5 times a year. 

How long does is take to sit a GMAT test ?

Three and a half hours. 60 minutes for AWA, 75 minutes for verbal, 75 minutes for quantitative.
Breaks are optional, 5 minutes each, between sections.

GMAT Practice Tests

Prepare for the GMAT with TestPrep-Online. We are currently developing GMAT sample questions. We offer a higher education basic prep pack that provides basic preparation for tests like the GMAT. Learn more about our higher education preparation packs here.

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